Complete Travel Guide to Kochi - Kerala Retreat

Chinese fishing nets, Kochi

Nestled on the coasts of South India, Kochi, also known as Cochin, is a captivating city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity.

From its rich history and cultural diversity to its serene backwaters and vibrant markets, Kochi has something for every traveler.

In this complete travel guide, we will explore the enchanting facets of Kochi, providing you with all the essential information to make your Kerala retreat truly unforgettable.

Getting There:

By Air:

Cochin International Airport (COK) serves as the primary gateway to the city. It is well-connected to major cities in India and various international destinations.

By Train:

Ernakulam Junction is the main railway station in Kochi, with regular trains connecting it to different parts of the country.

By Road:

Kochi has an extensive road network, and buses, taxis, and autorickshaws make it easy to travel within the city.

Also read: 15 Pristine Beaches in South India for Your Perfect Getaway

Getting around

Getting around Kochi is convenient, with various transportation options, including:

1. Auto-rickshaws: ideal for short distances, negotiate the fare, or ensure the meter is used.

2. Taxis: readily available; use those with meters or agree on fares beforehand.

3. Public buses: affordable and well-connected routes are displayed in English.

4. Ferries: Explore the waterways; ferries connect islands and the mainland.

5. Bicycles and scooters: Rent for flexible and leisurely exploration.

6. Car Rentals: Ideal for those wanting private transport; follow traffic rules.

7. App-Based Ride Services: Uber and Ola operate for convenient and comfortable rides.

8. Walking: Fort Kochi is pedestrian-friendly; explore historical sites and markets on foot.

Accommodation:

Luxury Stays:

Luxury Stays

1. Taj Malabar Resort & Spa:

  • Price Range: ₹10,000 - ₹25,000 per night

  • Features: waterfront location, luxurious amenities, spa services.

2. Brunton Boatyard:

  • Price Range: ₹8,000 - ₹20,000 per night

  • Features: heritage property, colonial-style architecture, fine dining.

3. Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty:

  • Price Range: ₹12,000 - ₹30,000 per night

  • Features: modern luxury, waterfront views, multiple dining options.

Mid-Range Hotels:

Mid-Range Hotels in kochi

1. Forte Kochi:

  • Price Range: ₹4,000 - ₹8,000 per night

  • Features: centrally located, comfortable rooms, boutique style.

2. The Postcard Mandalay Hall:

  • Price Range: ₹5,000 - ₹12,000 per night

  • Features: heritage property, personalized services, cultural experience.

3. Ginger House Museum Hotel:

  • Price Range: ₹3,000 - ₹6,000 per night

  • Features: unique museum-themed hotel, budget-friendly, central location.

Budget-Friendly Options:

Budget-Friendly Options

1. Zostel Kochi:

  • Price Range: ₹800 - ₹2,000 per night (hostel dormitory)

  • Features: backpacker-friendly, communal atmosphere, budget accommodation.

2. Happy Camper Hostel:

  • Price Range: ₹1,000 - ₹2,500 per night (hostel dormitory and private rooms)

  • Features: a laid-back atmosphere; budget options for solo travelers.

3. Elite Hotel:

  • Price Range: ₹2,000 - ₹4,000 per night

  • Features: budget hotel, basic amenities, central location.

Must-visit places:

1. Fort Kochi:

Fort KochiExplore the Historic District: Stroll through the narrow lanes of Fort Kochi, adorned with colonial-style architecture, vibrant street art, and a charming blend of cultures.

Chinese Fishing Nets: Head to the shoreline and witness the iconic Chinese fishing nets, an ancient fishing technique that adds to the picturesque waterfront.

Art Galleries: Immerse yourself in the local art scene by visiting galleries like Kashi Art Gallery and David Hall, which showcase contemporary and traditional works.

2. Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace):

Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace)Portuguese and Dutch Heritage: Discover the historical legacy of the palace, originally built by the Portuguese and later renovated by the Dutch. Marvel at the intricate Kerala murals depicting Hindu mythology.

Historical Artifacts: Explore the palace's museum, housing artifacts and belongings of the Kochi royal family, offering insights into the region's rich history.

3. Jew Town and Synagogue:

Paradesi SynagogueAntique Shops: Wander through Jew Town's cobbled streets, lined with antique shops offering a treasure trove of souvenirs, curiosities, and spices.

Spice Markets: Immerse yourself in the vibrant spice markets, where the air is filled with the aromas of cardamom, cinnamon, and other exotic spices.

Paradesi Synagogue: Visit the Paradesi Synagogue, a testament to the Jewish history of Kochi. Admire the architecture, the Belgian chandeliers, and the hand-painted Chinese tiles.

4. Marine Drive:

Marine Drive Kochi Scenic Promenade: Enjoy a leisurely walk along Marine Drive, the picturesque promenade along the backwaters. Marvel at the skyline, relax on the benches, and soak in the serene atmosphere.

Shopping: Explore the nearby shopping complexes for local handicrafts, souvenirs, and trendy boutiques.

5. St. Francis Church:

St. Francis Church

Historical Significance: Visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. Explore its architecture, inscriptions, and the tombstone of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama.

6. Willingdon Island:

Bolgatty PalaceBolgatty Palace: Explore the charming Bolgatty Palace, set against the backdrop of the backwaters. The lush surroundings and panoramic views make it a tranquil retreat.

Maritime Museum: Dive into the maritime history of Kochi at the Maritime Museum on Willingdon Island. Discover ship models, navigational instruments, and artifacts that narrate the city's seafaring past.

7. Kerala Folklore Museum:

Kerala Folklore MuseumCultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kerala at the Kerala Folklore Museum. Explore traditional artifacts and costumes, and witness live performances that showcase the diversity of the state's artistic traditions.

Also read: 15 Most Surreal Places on Earth That Look Like a Fantasy

Things to do

1. Kathakali Performance:

Kathakali Performance

Experience the vibrant traditional dance-drama of Kathakali, known for its colorful costumes, intricate makeup, and expressive storytelling.

  • Price Range: ₹300 - ₹1,000 or more, depending on the venue and seating.

Also read: 11 most celebrated festivals in South India

2. Backwater Cruise:

Backwater Cruise

Take a serene houseboat or day cruise to explore Kochi's backwaters, witnessing rural life and enjoying the scenic beauty.

  • Price Range: Houseboat rentals vary from ₹5,000 to ₹15,000 or more per night, depending on the type of boat and amenities.

3. Ayurvedic Spa Experience:

Ayurvedic Spa Experience

Indulge in traditional Ayurvedic spa treatments for relaxation and wellness, offered at various spas and wellness centers.

  • Price Range: Ayurvedic treatments can range from ₹1,000 to ₹5,000 or more, depending on the type and duration.

4. Bicycle or scooter rental:

Bicycle or scooter rental

Rent a bicycle or scooter to explore Fort Kochi and nearby areas at your own pace.

  • Price Range: Rental rates may start from ₹200 to ₹500 per day, depending on the type of vehicle.

Must-try local foods:

1. Karimeen Pollichathu (Pearl Spot Fish):

Karimeen Pollichathu (Pearl Spot Fish)Karimeen, a local fish, is marinated in a blend of spices, wrapped in banana leaves, and grilled or steamed.

  • Where to Eat: Oceanos Restaurant

  • Price: ₹400 - ₹600 per serving

2. Kerala Fish Curry:

Kerala Fish CurryA quintessential Kerala dish made with aromatic spices, coconut milk, and tamarind, often served with steamed rice.

  • Where to Eat: Malabar Junction

  • Price: ₹300 - ₹500 per serving

3. Appam with Stew:

Appam with StewA soft, pancake-like dish made from fermented rice batter, paired with a coconut milk-based stew.

  • Where to Eat: Pai Brothers Fast Food

  • Price: ₹100 - ₹200 per plate

4. Puttu and Kadala Curry:

Puttu and Kadala CurryCylindrical steamed rice cake served with Kadala curry, a spiced chickpea curry—a classic Kerala breakfast.

  • Where to Eat: Grand Pavilion

  • Price: ₹150 - ₹250 per serving

5. Sadya (traditional feast):

Sadya (traditional feast)A grand traditional feast served on a banana leaf, featuring a variety of vegetarian dishes and desserts.

  • Where to Eat: Kashi Art Cafe

  • Price: ₹500 - ₹800 per person for a complete Sadya

6. Idiyappam with Egg Curry:

Idiyappam with Egg CurryA delicate dish made from rice flour, commonly served with a flavorful egg curry.

  • Where to Eat: Kayees Rahmathulla Cafe

  • Price: ₹150 - ₹250 per serving

7. Kerala Parotta with Chicken Curry:

Kerala Parotta with Chicken CurryFlaky, layered flatbread paired with a spicy chicken curry is made by kneading maida (all-purpose flour) and eggs.

  • Where to Eat: Paragon Restaurant

  • Price: ₹200 - ₹350 per serving

8. Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu (Spicy Chicken Fry):

Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu (Spicy Chicken Fry)Chicken pieces marinated in a blend of spices and deep-fried to perfection—a popular snack or side dish.

  • Where to Eat: Dhe Puttu

  • Price: ₹250 - ₹400 per serving

9. Elaneer Payasam (Tender Coconut Kheer):

Elaneer Payasam (Tender Coconut Kheer)

A delightful dessert made with tender coconut pieces, coconut milk, and jaggery.

  • Where to Eat: Oceanos Restaurant

  • Price: ₹150 - ₹250 per serving

Souvenirs

Before bidding adieu to Kochi, explore the bustling markets. Jew Town and Mattancherry Spice Market offer a treasure trove of spices, antiques, and handcrafted souvenirs. Purchase intricately designed Kathakali masks, traditional Kerala sarees, and aromatic spices to carry a piece of Kochi's charm back home.

1. Spices:

Spices

Immerse yourself in the rich aroma of authentic Kerala spices such as cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.

  • Where to buy: Mattancherry Spice Market, Grand Bazar, or local spice shops.

  • Price: ₹100-₹500, depending on the type and quantity.

2. Handicrafts and Antiques:

Handicrafts and Antiques

Explore unique artifacts and antiques that showcase Kerala's cultural heritage, including wooden carvings, brassware, and vintage pieces.

  • Where to Buy: Jew Town, Mattancherry Antique Shops, Crafters in Fort Kochi.

  • Price: ₹500–₹5,000 or more, reflecting the item's uniqueness and age.

3. Coir Products:

Coir ProductsExperience the craftsmanship of handcrafted coir products such as intricately woven mats, rugs, and wall hangings.

  • Where to Buy: Coir Board Showroom, Kerala State Coir Corporation.

  • Price: ₹200–₹1,500, depending on the coir product.

4. Kathakali Masks:

Kathakali Masks

Admire the vibrant, hand-painted masks depicting characters from the traditional Kathakali dance form.

  • Where to buy: Mattancherry, Fort Kochi gift shops, Kerala Folklore Museum.

  • Price: ₹200–₹1,000, varying with size and intricacy.

5. Traditional Kerala Sarees:

Traditional Kerala Sarees

Revel in the elegance of handwoven sarees adorned with traditional Kerala designs and patterns.

  • Where to buy: Seematti, Jayalakshmi Silks, local handloom stores.

  • Price: ₹1,000 - ₹5,000 or more, reflecting quality and design.

Also read: 10 Dangerous places in India only for Brave Hearts

Kochi is more than just a destination; it's a journey through time, a celebration of diverse cultures, and an exploration of nature's wonders.

As you pack your bags and venture into the charm of Kochi, anticipate an enriching experience that will etch memories into the canvas of your travel story.

From the historic lanes of Fort Kochi to the delightful flavors of traditional cuisine and the serene backwaters that whisper tales of the past, Kochi promises to be a destination where the boundaries between history, culture, and nature blur, offering a timeless enchantment.

So, let the allure of Kochi unfold before you, and may your travels be adorned with moments that linger in your heart, creating a tapestry of memories that will accompany you on your journey through life.

Happy travels!

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